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Overused Words

We recently wrote about misused words. But what about tired, overused words and phrases? Take Your Writing to the Next Level! by replacing overused words with action verbs and specific phrases. If you have something to say, just say it!

Tired and Boring Words

In addition to "good" and "great," writers overuse several superlatives. These include bad, big, quite, and well. Mix up and select alternative words instead. Replace bad with "dubious" or "ineffective," depending on the meaning. After all, an idea isn’t bad, it just might lack details or seem unrealistic. "Quite" falls into the same category as "very" and "really." It's unnecessary. Replace "quite" and a noun with a more precise adjective. Instead of "quite fast," say "rapid" or "speedy." If a person or object performs a task well, maybe you can find a word that addresses the task and what makes the performance stand out. "The new sorter is more accurate," or even better, "the new sorter seldom mixes parts."

Other clichés, fillers and unclear phrases include "capable of" (when "can" can do!) and "remains to be seen" (is it uncertain; when will it "be seen"?) You can avoid other overused or boring words with a simple rewrite. For example, instead of multiple "and" uses in a sentence, break the sentence up.

Ambivalent Words

Sometimes, it is tough to commit. But for business writing to be effective, you must take a stand. "one of" and "some" are too vague and wishy-washy. Rewrite "One of the best features of our … is …" to say, "The best feature of our … is its …" or "Customers also appreciate its …" If you don't know the best feature, most productive employee, or primary strategy of your work, then find out and be specific. It's never helpful to say "Some experts …" Name the experts when you can or rephrase the sentence to make your statement definite but accurate.

Useless Words

"At some point in time." Time doesn't have points, and "some time" has equal meaning with three fewer words. Better yet, give the actual time, or at least an estimate. "By July, …" or "Later this year." Both are more specific, even if they are estimates.

And while you are pausing to consider words you overuse in your writing, think about the "trendy" words that come and go (paradigm and bandwidth come to mind). Avoid those as much as possible to keep your writing current and meaningful.

Taking Your Writing to the Next Level! means rethinking word use, jargon and tired, useless phrases. Cut to the chase and cut empty words from your writing. Let us help you refine and tighten your writing. Contact us online or call 425-485-3221.

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